Dharmesh Shah


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14 Revealing Signs You Love Your Startup Job

By Dharmesh Shah on May 23, 2013

You may not be frequently giving out an embarrassingly gushing smile and you might not write little love notes during your lunch break. But, there are ways to tell if you love your job.

Of course, no job is perfect -- even the best of relationships have their down days. We all have to do things we don’t like. I love working at HubSpot, it's the best job I've ever had (but, that's by design). But, even I have “off” days where I'm not spending all my time doing things I absolutely love.love my job small

So all of the following may not be the case all of the time.  But when you love your job, many of the following should be the case much of the time:

1. You don’t talk about other people; you talk about the cool things other people are doing.

“I hear Michelle has really improved our customer happiness scores.” or  “I’d love to know how Mike managed to rescue that sale.” “Sherry developed a new tool that's made our lives so much better.”

When you love your job you don’t gossip about the personal failings of others. You talk about their successes, because you’re happy for them – and because you’re happy with yourself.

2. You think, “I hope I get to…” instead of, “I hope I don’t have to…”

When you love your job it’s like peeling an onion. There are always more layers to discover and explore.

When you hate your job it’s also like peeling an onion – but all you discover are more tears.

3. You see your internal and external customers not as people to satisfy but simply as people.

They aren't numbers. You think of them as real people who have real needs.

And you gain a real sense of fulfillment and purpose from taking care of those needs.

4. You enjoy your time at work.

You don't have to put in time at work and then escape to life to be happy. You believe in enjoying life and enjoying work.

When you love your job, it’s a part of your life. You feel alive and joyful not just at home – but also at work.

5. You would recommend working at your company to your best friend…

In fact, you can't stop talking about how cool your company is and the awesome work you're doing even when you're away from work. Your friends and family are envious.

6. You enjoy attending meetings.

No, seriously, you enjoy meetings. Why? Because it’s fun to be at the center of thoughtful, challenging discussions that lead to decisions, initiatives, and changes – changes you get to be a part of.

7. You don’t think about surviving. You think about winning.

You don't worry much about losing your job. You're more worried about not achieving your potential. Not being as impactful as you can be.

8. You see your manager as a person you work with, not for.

You feel valued. You feel respected.

You feel trusted.

9. You don’t want to let your coworkers down.

Not because you’ll get in trouble or get a bad performance review, but because you admire them – and you want them to admire you.

10. You hardly ever look at the clock.

You’re too busy making things happen. When you do look at the clock, you often find that the time has flown.

11. You view success in terms of fulfillment and gratification – not just promotions and money.

Everyone wants to be promoted. Everyone wants to earn more.

You definitely feel that way too… but somewhere along the way your job has come to mean a lot more to you than just a paycheck. And if you left this job, even if for a lot higher salary… you would still miss it.

A lot.

12. You leave work with items on your to-do list you’re excited about tackling tomorrow.

Many people cross the “fun” tasks off their to-do lists within the first hour or two.

You often have cool stuff – new initiatives, side projects, hunches you want to confirm with data, people you want to talk to – left over when it’s time to go home.

13. You help without thinking.

You like seeing your colleagues succeed, so it’s second nature to help them out. You pitch in automatically.

And they do the same for you.

14. You can't imagine being somewhere else.

You're having too much fun.  Learning too much.  

How many of the above statements apply to you and your job?

If you said:
0-3: You may want to find a new job. Life is too short.
4-6: You don't hate your job... but you don't love it either. What can you do differently?
7-10: You really enjoy your job and the people you work with
11-14: You are deeply, madly in love with your job! (and your friends are definitely jealous!)
Topics: culture career
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The Why and How Of Updating Your Angel Investors

By Dharmesh Shah on May 20, 2013

There’s a massive amount available on the interwebs on how to improve the odds for success in new ventures. But almost nothing concrete is available on the care and feeding of your investors. You can do all of the Lean Startup experimentation you want, but we’re here to tell you that one of the the easiest and most underrated skills that a startup CEO needs is knowing how to keep your investors updated, excited and engaged.good news bad news small

The reason is:  The CEO is the investor's  user interface into the business.  It's how investors see what's going on, and in some minimal ways, interact with the business.

We polled several early stage investors (including ourselves) that have 30+ investments each under their belts, and asked them their advice for entrepreneurs on how best to communicate with them and update them on the business. Here are the results.

1) Write your investors consistently. probably every 1-2 months (if you're early stage), and every 2-3 months if you're a bit further along. If you have a regular advisory board or board of directors meetings, that's a good time to send out an update. This is preferable to phone calls, both for you and for them. If you’re smart, you’ll send this letter out, in more or less similar form, not only to your investors but also to mentors, advisors and staff. And if you do ever follow up with calls, they’ll be up to speed and more productive.

2) Keep it short. 2 pages, max. Your investors want to know what’s going on, but they don’t need to hear every detail.

3) Use a template. We like the TechStars one. Katie Rae and Reed Sturtevant of TechStars Boston teach their companies to communicate with mentors in a way such that each letter builds on the previous one. Typically, the letter gives both highlights and low-lights since the previous communication, sets some short term goals, and then reviews the progress—or lack thereof—on the goals set earlier. Just knowing that you will be producing a report card helps focus you on the important stuff and ensures that things don’t get forgotten. Check out the investor update template for a sample.

4) Remind them what you're doing (now).  I know this is going to sound strange, but often your investors are not doing as good a job as they could keeping up with all your activities, news, tweets and pivots.  Always include a one sentence description of what you're doing (now) just as a friendly reminder.  A side benefit to this is that it forces you to write (and read) your one sentence description.  This is one of the hardest tasks in startup-land.

5) Tell them the one or two strategic problems you are wrestling with. Got a few hard decisions? You’d be surprised how quickly an investor will respond. And odds are pretty good that they’ve seen this movie before and can help you come to a better decision. If it’s personnel-related, though, you may wish to be more circumspect.

6) Keep it honest, but don’t tell your secrets. Would you be comfortable if this email ended up in public, or in the hands of your competitors? If not, consider editing it down.

7) Always have 1-3 direct asks. Looking for some specific introductions? Ask. Need to source some key personnel? Ask. Want them to share some important news on their social media networks?  Don’t be proud, don’t be shy, just ask. 90% of the time, the investor will probably not be able to help, but in the 10% of the time they can help, it's often pure gold.

8) Cast a wide net, but bcc. The more people you can keep up on your company, the more likely it is someone will be able to help you out, and the more you can leverage your network. But respect your investors’ privacy, and make sure you are not revealing any confidences in the letter. (I still screw this up—when in doubt, leave it out.) One idea would be to setup a simple mailing list so you're not trying to type in email addresses manually every time.

9) ARCHIVE all correspondence in a shared folder. Your investors will be grateful that they don’t have to be organized. This tip is so simple, yet almost no one does this. Your investors have more on their plate than just you. Make it easy on them by putting everything they need to see into one folder which they can reference. Send each letter by email (don’t make them have to hit links or print out attachments,) but include a link to the shared folder with the full archive. Inside, have all of your historic correspondence, and perhaps even your latest pitch deck, any financials you want them to see, etc. You might consider having two separate folders—one complete one, for the inner circle, and one that’s been redacted down for the broader crowd.

Startups fail for lots of reasons— but one of the most common one is that they run out of money. Informed investors are generally happier investors—and at a minimum more capable of helping. And, if you're out raising another round sometime, chances are, your angel investors are the one's that can help make intros. It's easier for them to do that if they hear from you more often than once every 12-18 months when you need some paperwork signed.

Remember, this exercise is as much for you as it is for them.  

This entire process should take you less than an hour or two a month and it's worth it. Besides, if you do it right, you'll actually find that it helps you to write these updates -- and it's not a complete waste of time.  

This article was a collaboration between Ty Danco and Dharmesh Shah. Ty is CEO/co-founder of BuysideFX and an angel investor/mentor (you should be reading his blog). Dharmesh is founder/CTO of HubSpot, runs OnStartups.com and is an angel investor in over 40 companies (you can follow him on twitter @dharmesh).

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